One of the downsides of being me is that, after I post something like the squeeze bunt piece last night, I spend countless hours after the fact second-guessing myself. I always strive to be correct in everything I say, so I put a lot of thought into my posts, but if I took the time to look at something from every possible angle before posting about it, nothing would ever get posted, because I'd spend all my time thinking. Eventually I have to click the button to publish. So I write and I post and I find a way to deal with all the afterthoughts as they come.
Most of the time it works out pretty well. This time, though, I remain unconvinced by my own argument.
I love the suicide squeeze. That much is a fact, and it's also a fact that, in many situations, it's a smart call. It's an underused way to pretty reliably drive home an important run. However, in this particular instance, I'm beginning to think that it may indeed have been wiser to let Aybar swing away.
I've read a bunch of discussions this morning about the bunt, and the people who were against it make a pretty good point. What it comes down to is that, prior to the fateful pitch, Aybar was ahead 2-0 after Delcarmen delivered two straight high-inside fastballs. Clearly Boston was anticipating the squeeze, and clearly because of the two balls Aybar's matchup became more favorable. The average Major League hitter this year posted a 1.004 OPS after getting ahead 2-0. No matter how bad a hitter Aybar may be, at that point he was sitting pretty.
Maybe it really would've been better to give him the green light. Chances are he either puts the ball in play or walks. A hit obviously scores the run. Against a drawn-in infield, a lot of groundballs do the same. Most any outfield fly does the job, since Willits is quick and the Red Sox don't have the strongest arms. A pop-up or ball in play directly at an infielder would be bad, but every gamble has its downside. A walk is fine, since Figgins was on deck and he's hard to double up. And so on and so forth. The risk/reward ratio of letting Aybar swing away shifted towards the latter once Delcarmen fell behind in the count, and that changes the picture quite a bit.
After thinking about this for the better part of a work day, I officially don't know what I would've done had I been in Scioscia's place. The squeeze is appealing, but it's not even close to being as obvious as I thought it was last night. The 2-0 count means more than I gave it credit for. There are upsides and drawbacks to each side of the decision, and honestly, while bunting seems safe, it really isn't; a whole host of things can go wrong when a guy tries to bunt, and the more I think about it, the more a ~70% breakeven rate seems a little daunting. Even for a presuambly good bunter like Aybar. Hell, he blew his one chance. That right there should tell you that bunting isn't as easy as it sounds.
I'm not sure which would've been the better decision to make. All we know is that Scioscia got burned by his, and that now he has all winter to think about it. Whether or not he made the right call, I can't be certain, but I can't imagine having to make these decisions on the fly, and if this is what passes for questionable managing in Anaheim, then that team must be in pretty good hands.
What an entertaining series that was.